At the end, I will tell you which method I THINK IS THE BEST WAY TO GET MORE CLIENTS AT SCALE!
I started my agency from below zero and made it to just under 6 figures this year. Read to the end to see which method I believe is the STRONGEST for systematic scalability.
Craig here. So, I launched my first full-time agency this year.
This isn’t my first business. I started my first e-commerce business in 2001 and grew it to 6 figures in about a year using Google Adwords.
Then in 2006. I started a stock media marketplace that I grew to 7 figures, 1 million products and 2 million yearly visitors ALSO with Google Adwords. However, that company went through a brutal (and bogus) patent infringement lawsuit that eventually brought closure around early 2016.
So, when I started up my agency full time around the end of 2016, I was not even close to being in ideal shape for starting and growing a business. I had NO INCOME COMING IN AT ALL and NO SAVINGS TO PULL FROM. I used all of it trying to save my previous business.
It is almost impossible to start a business when you don’t already have money coming in. Yet, I was able to get just shy of 6 figures in my first full year.
HERE IS HOW I DID IT. DON’T FORGET TO SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM TO READ MY RECOMMENDATION ON THE BEST WAY TO GROW YOUR WEB DEV/MARKETING BUSINESS FAST.
That’s what friends are for….
One thing I learned when my previous business was going through the patent troll lawsuit was, “Pride will get you nowhere.”
As things became more difficult, I did what we had to do to hang on one more day. Pride was NOT an issue. What I learned was this. Friends want to help their friends.
So, when I started my agency, I let all of my friends who were in business know. From this, I got a few gigs. These first gigs were very beneficial. Now, these weren’t charity. These were real gigs with friends that needed help done.
I designed a web site and produced a video for a friend who owned a Real Estate agency and managed Adwords and did SEO for my friend who owns an epoxy flooring company.
These were helpful projects to get things going.
This was the biggest shocker.
I NEVER networked with my previous companies. In hindsight, I should have, for biz dev purposes at least. But, I got most of my clients using Adwords and SEO. So, I just didn’t need to or at least it didn’t feel as if I needed to.
Eventually I learned that local networking when you are starting a new business is invaluable. So, I headed out to Chamber of Commerce events and local networking groups I found on Meetup.com
Eventually I started getting clients. They would meet me at groups or would be referred by people I met at groups. In fact, one of my BIGGEST clients I met at a networking group meetup. This particular client ended up bringing in almost $35,000 in revenue.
I managed their Adwords campaigns and did a lot of strategic web development work for them. Was well worth the networking.
A repeatable system that I can depend upon is critical so I can scale my company faster and more reliably.
I would have started with Adwords from the get-go, but I was starting from ground zero and I had not tested Adwords with web development yet. It isn’t free, so it isn’t for someone who is just getting off the ground floor.
In the first couple of weeks I got a client worth $8,000 with only about $250 in ad spend and that was with the campaign being brand new and unoptimized.
I found a few things about Adwords interesting… I am located in Dallas which is a huge market. One of my Adwords clients told me that he had called a number of Adwords ads. One said that they were way too busy to help him and the other two didn’t ever answer the phones.
This confirmed to me even more that if I was going to depend on anything to systematically provide me clients at a fair price (I know how to use Adwords to ensure I don’t spend much, but get great results) .
The older I get, the colder I get. (And I don’t like it.)
I just don’t like cold things. I have realized these fast few years that the older I get the colder I get. And I just don’t like being cold.
Alternatively, I just don’t like cold calls or emails. (Who does right?)
That said, I had to do some experimentation with them regardless.
Now, if I am going to be very honest, I didn’t do much with cold calling, although I still have high hopes for it believe it or not. My big issue and fear over the last year has been wasting time. I just don’t have time to waste and need to feel like what I am doing is getting me somewhere.
For some reason, I have just felt like cold calls would cost me more time than I had from researching businesses that actually need help to finding the right person to call, to getting them at the right time, etc. etc.
So, I primarily focused on cold emails. Here is what I did. I hired a VA from the phillippines and I had her go out and fill me up spreadsheets with data from people in the niches I wanted to target.
She was great at it. Every day I had a new spreadsheet full of data.
Then, I took that spreadsheet and put it into Contactually which is a CRM for emailing and keeping in contact with potential clients.
The I sent out a series of emails to these potentials. I was also able to upload the email list to Facebook to re-target.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t have much luck with this. Now, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great solution and I will probably come back to it. But, again, this was my first year. I had to focus on what I felt worked ideally. I just couldn’t toy around too much.
Oh, Hi Mark (Zuckerburg.)
This method actually didn’t come into play until the end of the year. I asked someone I ran into online about ideal ways to get clients and he suggested Facebook Groups.
So, I joined a number of Facebook groups and started interacting. One week I had almost appointments in 4 days and this was in the month of December. One of them turned into a paying gig. It was for Adwords management for a photographer.
The others fizzled out.
I found that I was spending too much time in these groups to get as much out of them as I would like.
However, I think the better way of going about it is to create one’s own group and that is my plan for this year.
Facebook Ads No Go
I am a big fan of Facebook ads for many niches and I gave FB ads a good college try for web design clients. I have been advertising on the Facebook platform for over 7 years, so I am no spring chicken.
That said, I just found Facebook advertising un-ideal for finding the types of high value web development clients I was looking for.